home      planning, prep and costs

 Where to start the planning...
 07 Feb 2008

There seems to be so much to do, but once you really start looking and thinking about it, it's not actually that bad.  I think a lot of people think about doing a trip like ours.  Thinking about it seems to be where it then stops as well because of the perception of what might be involved.  We were in the same boat, but soon realised that it's not really the case.

Lets think about it for a minute.  There are a few major things that needs to be sorted out.  The first in our case would be to find someone who can ship our car from Sydney to Vladivostok.  Then you of course needs visas.  Ok, no real drama.  Its really about timing of when to get what and where you are going to get it.  Travel insurance is important for us, so that was something we had to look at as well.  Then the only other big 'planning' thing is to decide where you want to go.  Our approach is one of knowing what countries we will go through and some major sites and places we would like to see, but that's where it ends.  Surely it's not about the destination, but more about the journey.

Are we planning or preparing?

Today we went for our second lots of vaccinations.  Our shoulders are feeling like pin cushions at the moment.  Today's menu consisted of Meningiccocal, Hep B, Japanese encephalitis and rabies and Mandy qualified for a bonus Hep A booster.  This is after having the 'first course' about 2 weeks ago which consisted of Yellow fever, Polio, Typhoid, MMR, Tetanus.  Desert will be in the next couple of weeks.  It will consist of a few boosters for some we had today, finally followed by a nice cup of cholera.  Mmmmm...tasty!!!   To top it all off, we thought we would brush up on our first aid skills as well.  We will be doing a remote area first aid course offered by St Johns here in Australia.  Have a look at the links page for more info on it.

  03 March 2008

Where on earth does all the time go.  I can't believe it's been almost a month since we updated the site.  I'm not sure whether it will be easier or harder to do it while we're on the road.  I suppose one good thing will be the fact that all the preparation will be done by then.

A lot has been going our since the first update.  Where do we start...I still had a few things to finish in the inside of the Pumbaa II for our sleeping arrangements, the drawer system, carpeting the inside, varnishing the drawers and of course Mandy's handcrafted curtains went up as well.  I must say, they look really good.  We were initially a bit worried that the material will be a bit light and that people will be able to see us in the evening when we have a light on, but safe to report back that all is well.  No peeping tom will be able to get a glimpse. 

I also managed to take Pumbaa II to a 4wd specialist here in Sydney (well actually about 60km out of Sydney - a place called Hi-Tech 4x4 in Penrith) to have a big pre-trip inspection done and to do the last modifications, fitting diff breathers, a second fuel filter with water seperator to name only a few.  They also fitted the new tyres.  After months and months of discussing and arguing with myself over what the best suited tyres will be, we took the plunge and got the Mickey Thompson MTZ tyres.  After a LOT of reading and speaking to people here in Oz, the feedback all point to one direction.  Although the tyre is fairly new on the market, it seems like it is a very durable tyre and performs excellent in mud and on gravel.  Wet weather bitumen driving is also very good for this tupe of ture compared to other brands like BFG and Coopers.  We decided to stick to a similar size tyre and fitted the 10 ply side sidewall rated tyre of 265/75/R16.  All the other sizes are 8 ply rated which obviously means less load carrying capacity.  The rims size is a bit different, we got rid of the horrible, heavy split rims and got steel Sunraysia 16x8 rims.  According to the tyre experts, a better rim size to use with this size tyre because of a better fit.  Time will tell I suppose with the tyre choice.  I'll keep you all posted.  I must say that I'm very happy so far with the work Ben and Chris from Hi-Tech 4x4 did.  Real 4x4 enthusiasts and they also do some competions. All in all a good experience so far and money well spent (I hope).  We will take it back for a final check over just before we load him up to be shipped.

In between all of this and doing the last few things on the inside, we managed to get away for a few days to to the annual Hubb meeting here in Oz.  It was held in Tintaldra on the Victoria/NSW border.  We thought this would be the ideal opportunity to test out what we've done so far and to get some inspiration and advice from fellow globe trotters (albeit on motorbikes).  We left the Wednesday evening and took our time doing the 500 odd km down to Victoria to get there on friday morning for the start of the weekend.  Luckily we weren't the only people in fourbys.  We met up with other travellers we met through the Hubb (Chris, Ann, Alastair and Bronwyn) who will be doing a similar trip to us.  The only difference being that they will do there's in 2009.  To be honest, I did feel a bit apprehensive before the weekend because we weren't sure if we are doing enough research etc for the trip.  Turns out that we look to be in fairly good shape.  There were some excellent presentations by a few people and some very interesting photo sessions as well.  People think we are daring, but I tell you what...there are a lot more daring people than us.  One german guy went through West Africa on his KTM bike and decided to add a little bit of a bigger challenge to his trip, he would try and build a bike 'barge' to take him a few thousand km down the Niger using the bike to propel it.  To his credit, he managed to do it and travelled at least 1000km and about 7 weeks.  It was a good weekend all in all and we're glad we went.  We managed to spend a bit of time in Mount Kozsciuszko on the way back and saw some really nice caves at Yarrongibilly and some other camp spots in the national park.

Click here to have a look at some of the new photos we've added to the Australia album.

до свидания, жак и менди
  04 May 2008
It's been ages since the last update again, but it honestly feels like just the other day we wrote something.  Anyway, more to the point, what have we been up to over the last few months?
Well, we are just about set with everything on Pumbaa.  I just finished mounting the air compressor  today, which was not in the original plans.  We did however realise on our last weekend away that space will definitely be limited and the ARB plastic box the compressor came in was just not going to work space wise.  Deciding to mount it was easy enough, but finding a place for it was not that easy.  The obvious spot will be in the engine bay, but seeing that we added an extra battery and had to move the existing fuel filter as well as the extra fuel filter with water seperator, made it a little more difficult.  The decision was eventually made to mount it inside.  It is sitting just under the inverter.  The inverter is connected to the battery with heavy duty wiring which will be good for the compressor as well.  Having it inside will also keep it a bit cleaner (hopefully). 
We also decided to add a custom made back canvas rear tent to our home.  This will hopefully keep us dry in the wet wether and give us some protection from the elements we will face.  It should also help a bit with the monster mosquitoes we will be encountering in Eastern Russia and also the insects of Africa.  We used it for the first time when we went away on the Anzac long weekend to our friends,Chris and Ann Drew, and to meet with fellow travellers in the Hunter Valley.  There are a few small adjustments to be made, to get it just right.  I will be taking it back to the poeple who made it this week so that they can make the final adjustments. 
Chris and Ann very kindly arranged for a 'get together' and 'swap ideas' weekend at their place.  They managed to pursued some other travellers who recently completed a russian traverse to come and share some of their wonderful stories with us.  Not only was it very useful and nice to meet new people, but defintely inspiring to see.  After all, this is what travelling is all about, isn't it?  Meeting people and sharing stories.
The time has also come to start with visa applications and other paperwork.  We are using David Berghoff at Stantours to apply for our Russian letter of invitation.  They subitted it 22 Apr, and we should hopefully have it around 20 May.  Once we have that, we need to take it to the Russian embassy here in Sydney to apply for the visa.  The time has also come to start completing the paperwork for our Carnet.  We need to submit the application no later than 12 May.  It takes about 2-3 weeks to process.  Once we get that back, we need to get it to the shipping agent who needs to book a customs officer to inspect and sign off on the car documents and Carnet on the 10th of June when we will be loading the car.  Did I mention that...?!?!  Don't think I have, my apologies.  The shipping is booked and Pumbaa will be taking to the seas on 15 June to arrive in Pusan, South Korea, on 28 June.  Customs and clearance will take about 7 days, which will work out well for us seeing that we get there on 3 July.  This is defintely our biggest worry at the moment.  Loading your car in a container and hope and pray that is comes out the other side in the same condition it went in.
Talking about South Korea, one of Mandy's school friends very kindly invited us to come and stay with them in Seoul when we are there.  They moved there recently and am still finding their way around as well.  Seoul does sound very exciting, and we are very much looking forward to explore it and also some of the South Korean countryside and national Parks.  I think that it should be a good starting point for our trip because we will still be in a place where it should be easier to change things if we need to.  It will also give us a bit of time to settle into our new home without too many monster mosquitoes around.
We have just started with our last few russian classes.  It is going quite well, but the true test will obviously come when we are there.  We will definitely miss going to our Saturday morning classes with Marina who has been very inspirational to us and always so willing and excited to teach us new things, and off course, we will miss our little parties we had with the vodka 11 o'clock in the morning...
It is also almost time for our St John's remote first aid course as well.  It is a three day course and our first day will be 25 May.  Listening to other people who have already completed it, it seems a but full on, but definitely something to stay on the 'to-do' list.  Will let you all know how it went.
Well, that's about it for now.  We've added a few photos in the 'planning' photo album and also added a list of our tools, spares etc here.
Look after each other and until we meet again
Jacques and Mandy
  14 June 2008
A lot's been going on since the last update.  The closer we get the 2nd of July the more things we have to do.
First a quick update from the previous post.  We managed to complete our remote first aid course with St John's.  It's definitely worth doing it.  It gives you a little bit more confidence when dealing with emergencies.  We now know how to deal with broken bones, burns, bleeding etc.  Any volunteers...???
Now for some good news!!!  We eventually got our multi-entry Russian business visa.  That was definitely a big relief to have that stamped in our passports.  Only now does it start to feel like we are almost on our way.  The visa process was fairly easy. Have a look at the visa page for more detail of the process.  One thing is for sure though, there is definitely something about the Russians.  When you walk into the Consulate you become a little bit nervous all of a sudden.  You say as little as possible and don't ask too many questions, just incase you say or ask something that might raise a few eyebrows and all of a sudden there might be something 'wrong' with your paperwork.  Luckily all was in order and we were in and out in less than 20 min.
The other good news is that we managed to load Pumbaa II into the container a couple of days ago, ready to be shipped tomorrow (15 June).  The actual packing wasn't that bad in the end.  We did the packing in stages and got everything out and ticked on our list.  Once everything was out and ready, the second part was to get it in the car and then cross it from the list.  We managed to get everything in and still have a bit of extra space as well.
Moving on from packing and onto loading in the container, it was a bit touch and go at one point.  We were suppose to load at 1pm, but the customs inspectors made a mess of the booking and thought it was 9am in the morning.  Luckily we managed to get an appointmet for 3pm the same day.  We had to have a customs officer inspect the vehicle and content and stamp our carnet before we could load it.  All was well with the vehicle and the spares and tools I listed on the carnet.  The customs officer (think he may have been a newbie) then decided that because the general things like clothes, camping things and a few food items weren't listed on the carnet, he won't be able to sign off the carnet.  He made a quick call back to his office and spoke to the carnet officer who said no, sorry, he will not be able to release the carnet.  Here we go I thought, haven't even left yet and some problems with paperwork.  Luckily I managed to control myself and Mandy thought at that stage that it will probably be better if she waits in the car.  Anyway, after a bit of discussion, I decided to phone our shipping agent, and spoke to their licenced customs officer.  I explained the  situation to him and he had a quick word with the 'official'.  I was assured by our agent that it will not be a problem if they take the carnet back to the office.  He said that it needs to be referred to the quarantine section because of the tins of food we had.  Our agent said that it is the first time that this has happened in his years of dealing with customs.  All of this delayed us with loading the car on the container, which meant that we had to go back the following day.  Luckily, on our way home, our agents phoned us back and said that he spoke to the customs office and that our carnet will be stamped and ready the following day.  Boy, what a relief.  Can you imagine if we had to get another one issued because of a tin of bloody tomatoes. 
We went back the following day to load and secure the car.  The guys who loaded it was absolutely great.  They secured the car as if it's worth a million dollars.  We also had a close call with the height of the car.  We knew that it would be close.  The last thing I wanted to do though was to have to take the roofrack off.  It took four men to get the thing on in the first place.  We let some air out the tyres to lower it a bit and with a bit of extra weight on the back from one of the guys at the warehouse, managed to get it in with about 2cm spare.  (You will be able to see on some of the photos in the 'Planning' album).  All safe and secure and lock up now and hopefully on the ship as we speak.  Lets hope it is in the same condition when we pick it up and that the our first experience of customs of other countries will be a positive one. 
Until next time
Jacques and Mandy